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Why Do Condoms Break?

by Danielle Wright

I’ve spent some time researching for this article and even interviewed a gentleman—he wished to remain anonymous—who was very candid with his responses. When we hear the word condom, what comes to mind? Is it something that women use or men? Typically, for the average person, a condom is used by males and is a thin rubber sheath worn on the penis during sexual intercourse.

The gentleman said, “Men should not transition from condom-free sex (i.e., losing their virginity without a condom) to using condoms.” I then asked, why? “Condoms are not pleasant. For example, I once had condom-free sex with a woman and managed to stay hard throughout. After some time when she and I rekindled and went back to using condoms, I kept going soft during sex. It made her feel self-conscious, which in turn ruined the experience for both of us.” So, how can you keep the fire burning in the bedroom?

The condom is rolled onto the penis before sex and is designed to prevent semen from entering the woman’s vagina. If this doesn't occur, the sperm and egg cannot meet, and pregnancy cannot occur. In terms of condom materials, options include lambskin, nitrile, polyisoprene, and polyurethane. Condoms can be purchased at various drug stores or obtained for free at community centers. Aside from preventing pregnancy, condoms are also used to protect against STDs. They prevent skin-to-skin contact, protecting against both herpes and genital warts. However, it's important to note that materials such as lambskin do not protect against STDs.

So, why do condoms break? The package may be damaged before use, the condom may be expired, it may have been used the entire time you and your partner were having sex, or, as per my source, sometimes the condom breaks if the tip of a male's fingernail happens to nick it—this can sometimes be accidental or intentional. It is important to have a good relationship with your partner before intercourse to build trust.

If you’re dating a man who simply does not like condoms, there are other options to consider: a female condom, a dental dam. But any man who refuses to prioritize your health is probably an irresponsible risk-taker. Men like this prioritize their comfort over safety. Here’s the bottom line: people who are the receiving partners are more susceptible to many STI infections.

1. Their bodies are more likely to tear during sex, and 2. Those body parts have mucous membranes that make it easier for infections to enter their bodies. Not to mention a risk of infertility if a bacterial infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea isn’t treated and leads to pelvic inflammatory disease. Because men do not have these worries, they are less concerned about the risks of condom-free, unprotected sex.


If you’ve been with your partner for some time and would like to try something a bit unique, a dental dam is another option. Dental dams are latex or polyurethane sheets used between the mouth and vagina or anus for oral sex. It is recommended to use one every time you have oral sex, and just like condoms, you want to be sure that you’re checking the expiration date before use. Check for tears or defects and be sure to keep it on until finished. Dental dams can only be used once and should be discarded in the trash. Do not flush a dental dam because it can clog your toilet.

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The female condom is inserted into your vagina before intercourse. The way you use one is similar to how to put in a tampon. It may seem a bit hard at first, but once you get used to it, it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3. Again, you want to be gentle and careful not to rip it open as this could lead to tears in the condom.

Place lubricant on the closed end of the condom, find the most comfortable position to put it in; you may prefer to lie down, squat, or stand with one leg on a chair. Squeeze the ring on the closed end of the condom together and insert it into your vagina as far as it will go, just like a tampon. For anal sex, put it in as far as it will go into your bottom. Let go of the ring so that it opens and stays in place. Let the ring on the other end hang about an inch outside of your vagina or bottom.

Female condoms are about 95% effective if used correctly. But similar to male condoms, they can break if the same precautions are not taken. Additionally, female condoms can be inserted up to 8 hours before you have sex, which means you don’t have to interrupt the mood to put one in. This is a second option if your partner refuses to wear a condom. Also, they stay in place even if your partner loses their erection.

I once dated a guy who was very adamant about wearing condoms, but during sex, the condoms kept breaking. While it was odd to me then, I did have a chance to research why this may have happened. Men who are okay with wearing condoms can become nervous with a woman they are sleeping with for the first time: performance anxiety.

This can cause the male to go soft, the condom to slip, break, or even slide into the woman inadvertently. If you can, try to make putting on a condom or putting in the condom part of foreplay to help ease the tension. While there are pros and cons for all preventative measures, the more important thing is to have fun, trust, and try to be open-minded with your partner.


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